"Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."–Arthur Ashe

Why now is the time....
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Even those of you that know my husband and I you may not be aware of how we were impacted by donated blood.

My story goes like this. I was 6 days postpartum. My son Aiden remained hospitalized, in the NICU. I was standing at the register at our local pharmacy, Snyder Drug, in the process of checking out. I felt a warm, moist sensation in my groin. My thoughts were, “Did I pee? No. I did not. Did my water break? No. I am no longer pregnant, right?” I looked down and saw the delineation of fluid on my black leggings. I then acknowledged that this line was quickly progressing toward my knees. Using my bare hand, I touched my thigh. The cashier and I both stood in awe as I held my hand in front of me, covered in frank red blood.

For brevity I will spare you rest of the particulars. I only have brief recollection of arrival to the emergency room and beyond that I blacked out. It was reported that I never did lose consciousness. My memory returned as my blood supply was restored. I received 6 units of live saving, donated blood that day. Keep in mind, I had a 6-day old newborn waiting for me and at that time I was parenting him by myself. The value of the blood I received is beyond what I can articulate, truly “priceless”.

Grant’s story is different than my own. In his twenties and thirties, he had many gastrointestinal issues. This was secondary to overuse of NSAIDs. When my husband was 28 years old, he suffered from a life-threatening GI bleed. As a result, Grant was the recipient of 8 units of donated, lifesaving blood. I am eternally grateful for those who donated blood to my husband that day.

Accurate depiction of the shock and fear that results when you watch this essential resource escape your body is difficult to articulate. Uncontrolled blood loss is comparable to slowly running out of oxygen while underwater.

In my practice, over the last 9 years, as a registered nurse I have given countless blood transfusions. In most cases it is 2 units at a time. The frequency in which I perform this intervention is sometimes daily sometimes weekly. I cannot even fathom the consequences my patients and those of us who care for them would face if we didn’t have this much needed resource. As you can see this plight is very close to my heart. Not everyone is eligible to donate. However, I plea with you to please assess your eligibility. Encourage those you know to donate. My stories are just a miniscule fraction of those that exist. The stories of children are particularly heart wrenching.

My employer, Benefis Healthcare Systems, is doing our best at being internally judicious with our blood bank supply. We also want to get the word out about the shortage and personally invite you to the Benefis East Blood Drive, Friday, February 4th from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at the American Red Cross Blood Center in Great Falls.

To sign up to donate, please visit www.redcrossblood.org. I have been told 25-50% of our local appointments go unfilled daily, so if February 4th doesn’t work for you, there are other opportunities. For those appointment openings, again visit www.redcrossblood.org and enter zip code 59405. This is a national crisis, not just limited to Great Falls or Montana, so please share this with family, friends and colleagues!